Christian Fellowship – Hymns of Dawn No. 23

Christian Fellowship – Hymns of Dawn No. 23

“(1) Come, let us shout joyfully to Jehovah! Let us shout in triumph to our Rock of salvation. (2) Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; Let us sing and shout in triumph to him” (Psalm 95:1,2).

“My mouth shall praise Thee with joyful lips” (Psalm 63:5).

Here is a recording of Hymn No. 23 from the “Hymns of Dawn” to aid God’s people in singing and making melody in their hearts unto God.

Lyrics

1.
Blest be the tie that binds
Our hearts in Christian love;
The fellowship of kindred minds
Is like to that above.

2.
Blest are the sons of peace,
Whose hearts and hopes are one,
Whose kind designs to serve and please
Thro’ all their actions run.

3.
Before our Father’s throne,
We pour our ardent prayers;
Our fears, our hopes, our aims are one,
Our comforts and our cares.

4.
We share our mutual woes;
Our mutual burdens bear;
And often for each other flows
The sympathizing tear.

5.
When we asunder part,
O may this mutual love
Encourage ev’ry fainting heart,
His zeal and faith to prove.

6.
Our glorious hope revives
Our courage ev’ry day,
While each in expectation strives
To run the heav’nly way.

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Bible Scriptures Associated With This Hymn

Acts 2:42 (NASB) — “They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.”

Romans 14:19 — “So then we pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another.”

1 Corinthians 12:20-27 (NRSV) — “(20) As it is, there are many members, yet one body. (21) The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I have no need of you,’ nor again the head to the feet, ‘I have no need of you.’ (22) On the contrary, the members of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, (23) and those members of the body that we think less honorable we clothe with greater honor, and our less respectable members are treated with greater respect; (24) whereas our more respectable members do not need this. But God has so arranged the body, giving the greater honor to the inferior member, (25) that there may be no dissension within the body, but the members may have the same care for one another. (26) If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honored, all rejoice together with it. (27) Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.”

1 Corinthians 13:4-8, 13 (NRSV) (4) Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant (5) or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; (6) it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. (7) It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. (8) Love never ends. (13) And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.

Galatians 3:28 — “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.”

Philippians 1:27 (NASB) — “Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I will hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel;”

Philippians 2:1-8 (NASB) —(1) Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion,(2) make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. (3) Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; (4) do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. (5) Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, (6) who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, (7) but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. (8) Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”

Ephesians 4:3 (Amplified) — “Be eager and strive earnestly to guard and keep the harmony and oneness of [and produced by] the Spirit in the binding power of peace.”

Hebrews 10:24-25 (NASB) — (24) and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, (25) not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.

1 John 1:3, 7 (KJV) — “(3) That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ. (7) But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.”

1 Peter 3:8 (Amplified) — “Finally, all [of you] should be of one and the same mind (united in spirit), sympathizing [with one another], loving [each other] as brethren [of one household], compassionate and courteous (tenderhearted and humble).”

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The History Of This Hymn

Author John Fawcett (1740-1817) is attributed for writing the original lyrics for “Blest Be The Tie That Binds” which in the “Hymns of Dawn” constitute Verses 1, 3 and 4 of hymn no. 23, “Christian Fellowship.”

John Fawcett was a British-born Baptist theologian, pastor and hymn writer (Wikipedia). “In 1772 he was invited to London, to succeed the celebrated Dr. J. Gill, as pastor of Carter’s Lane; the invitation had been formally accepted, the farewell sermon at Wainsgate had been preached and the wagons loaded with his goods for removal, when the love and tears of his attached people prevailed and he decided to remain” (https://hymnary.org/person/Fawcett_John1740).

Composer — Lowell Mason (1792-1872, who is considered “the father of American church music”) arranged this hymn’s tune titled “DENNIS” which he first publishing in The Psaltery in 1845 (a hymnal he compiled with George Webb). Mason attributed the tune to Johann G. Nageli (Switzerland, 1773-1836) but included no source reference (https://hymnary.org/tune/dennis_nageli).

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The words below are based on content of Reprint No. 647 as documented on the Harvest Truth Data Base: http://www.htdb.one

CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP

“If we walk in the light as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son, cleanseth us from all sin” (1 John 1:7).

True fellowship implies love, sympathy, a mutual sharing of good or ill, common principles, common interests, and a common aim. It may exist between parties on equal footing, or between those whose conditions are widely different. Where the latter is the case, benevolence [kindness, goodness, compassion, thoughtfulness, decency, charity] on the part of the superior is shown in acts of favor and blessing, and on the part of the inferior, in gratitude and such returns in action as are possible.

Than such fellowship there is nothing more desirable and more helpful to the saints in the narrow and difficult way they are called to tread. But while we should ever seek and cultivate such fellowship, we need to be very careful to see that our fellowship one with another, is based upon correct principles, else that which was designed as a blessing, will be found to our great disadvantage.

Realizing this, the Apostle Paul admonishes us, saying: “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers, for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness…or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?” (2 Cor. 6:14,15.) “How can two walk together except they be agreed?” It is impossible. Let us see to it, then, that our fellowship is based upon the sure foundation referred to in this text—the blood of Jesus Christ that cleanseth us from all sin—and that our rejoicing and communion be of the increasing light as we walk together.

And this great blessing, the Apostle John tells us, it is our privilege to have. He says we may have fellowship with our Father, and with his Son, and also with other saints who are walking in the light—the truth.

“This then,” says John, “is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.” The truth is all clear and plain in God’s sight, and he, by his Spirit, through his Word, will lead all of his children into light (truth) in its due season, if they are in actual fellowship with him. John states this very emphatically, saying, “If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not [practice] the truth” (Ver. 6.) …

God speaks to his children through his Word, and he is acquainted with all our circumstances and hears our prayers, but it is a great mistake to imagine that we have communion and fellowship with God, when we only speak to him in prayer, and never examine the Word to hear him speak to us. We may speak and then listen, but we need to hear much more than we say. Thus we have communion, interchange of thought, fellowship. None can thus commune with God without becoming acquainted in some measure with his truth, and if they are in harmony and fellowship with him, his plans and purposes will become theirs. If they do not desire to obey the truth, they will deceive themselves in an endeavor to disbelieve it, and to substitute something else in its place. And while doing this many hold to the form of sound words while denying their import.

But if as children of the light we walk in the light, not only shall we have fellowship with our Father and our Lord, but we shall also have fellowship with other saints who are walking in the same narrow way.

R. W.

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The words below are based on content of Reprint No. 1278 as documented on the Harvest Truth Data Base: www.htdb.one

This one page article from the Reprints of the original “Zion’s Watch Tower and Herald of Christ’s Presence” is something that “appeared on the inside front cover of each issue during 1891.”

WE CONTEND EARNESTLY FOR THE FAITH

—ONCE DELIVERED TO THE SAINTS.—

“We trust in the living God, who is the Savior of all men—specially [or most fully and everlastingly] of those that believe.”1 Tim. 4:10.

“To us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him.”1 Cor. 8:6.

All we are brethren, and one is our Master, even Christ. (Matt. 23:8.) Our Master declares: “If ye keep my commandments ye shall abide in my love, even as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.” “And this is his commandment, that we love one another.”

WE SEEK TO WALK

Worthy of the vocation wherewith we are called, with all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; endeavoring to preserve the unity of the spirit [oneness of mind] in the bond of peace. There is ONE BODY [Church], with ONE SPIRIT [one sentiment or disposition], even as we are called in ONE HOPE of our calling; ONE LORD, ONE FAITH, ONE BAPTISM, ONE GOD AND FATHER OF ALL, who is above all and through all and in us all.—Eph. 4:1-6.

THE ONE BODY—is “the Church of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth;” “the Church of the first-born” “whose names are written in heaven;” the “little flock,” to whom it is the Father’s good pleasure to give the Kingdom; the members in particular of the body of Christ; prospectively, Christ’s Bride and joint-heir; the “Seed of Abraham,” of which our Lord Jesus is Head. Since Pentecost this Church of Christ has been in process of selection from among justified believers, or the general “household of faith;” and its members, when complete and glorified, unitedly shall inherit the Abrahamic promise and bless all the families of the earth.—Gal. 3:16,29.

THE ONE SPIRIT—is the spirit of the Truth, the spirit of God, the spirit of adoption as sons of God, which actuates and governs all who are of the ONE BODY, in vital union with the one Head, Christ Jesus. It is the spirit of holiness, and chief among its fruits is Love.

THE ONE HOPE—which inspires all the members of the one body of Christ, who have the one spirit of the Truth, is the hope set before us in the gospel,” and not hopes suggested from our own or other men’s imaginations or conjectures. The one hope is a “good hope” (2 Thes. 2:16), a hope of eternal life by a resurrection. (Titus 3:7.) The ground of this hope is found in Jehovah’s promises, confirmed unto us by the death of our Lord Jesus as the ransom price for our sins, and by his resurrection from the dead for our justification.—1 Pet. 1:3; Acts 17:31.

THE ONE LORD—is the Head or Chief of the one body—his Church possessing the spirit of the Truth and actuated by the one hope of becoming his Bride and joint-heir. He and his Father are one, even as he and his church are one. (John 17:11.) He is the Redeemer of his church as well as her Lord, Exemplar and Master. And he is the Redeemer also of the whole world, and by virtue of that office he is to be the world’s Deliverer from Adamic sin and death. He it is who in all things has the pre-eminence in Jehovah’s plan and work. He was not only “the beginning of the creation of God,” “the first-born of every creature,” but more: he was the “beginning and the ending,” he was the “Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last,” of Jehovah’s direct creation; for all other “things were made by him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.” (Col. 1:15,18; Rev. 3:14; 1:8; 21:6; 22:13; John 1:3.) He it is who, to carry out the Father’s gracious plan, willingly left the glory which he had with the Father before the world was created, and became a man—a little lower than the angels—that he might, as a man, present himself in sacrifice for the sins of man. Thus we behold him as the “Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself a ransom FOR ALL.” (1 Tim. 2:5,6.) By his willing sacrifice of himself for men he bought Adam and the entire race condemned through his fall, and became Lord of all—not only of the living, but also of the dead, with full power and authority to awaken and restore to all that was lost whosoever accepts of the New Covenant of divine favor which, by his death, he sealed and made effective to all. But our Lord is no longer in the flesh, no longer a human being. He has finished the work of ransoming us, for which the taking of the flesh was needful. He was indeed put to death in the flesh, but was quickened [made alive] in the spirit. “Though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet henceforth we know him [so] no more.” As he was begotten of the spirit at his baptism, so he was born of the spirit at his resurrection; and “that which is born of the spirit is spirit.” “Now the Lord is that spirit.” (1 Pet. 3:18; 2 Cor. 5:16; John 3:6; 2 Cor. 3:17.) Because he showed his obedience to the Father, and his confidence, in that he humbled himself to become a man and tasted death for every man, therefore God highly exalted him—far above manhood, far above the angelic nature; even far above his own glorious previous station, and gave him a name [title] above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow and every tongue confess, to the glory of God the Father. He made him partaker of the divine nature and honor, “that all men should honor the Son even as they honor the Father.” “He is Lord of all.”Phil. 2:8-11; John 5:22,23,26; Acts 10:36.

THE ONE FAITH—is that we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, who died for our sins, the just for the unjust, to bring us to God; by whom we have accepted the at-one-ment with God, offered unto us. Wherefore, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ; being cleansed by his blood [sacrifice], we are brought nigh to God and are no longer strangers and foreigners, but children and heirs of his favors, prepared for those who love him when brought nigh through the precious blood. Through this faith we grasp the exceeding great and precious promises of God as rapidly as we see them, and gladly appropriate them to ourselves. Faith anchors our hearts securely to the precious things of the future, though unseen as yet except to the eye of faith. Faith is the power of God to every one that believeth.

THE ONE BAPTISM—Those of the one BODY and one HOPE, joined to the one LORD, possessing the one FAITH, are all baptized or immersed into Jesus Christ. (Rom. 6:3.) As individuals they have reckonedly ceased to exist: henceforth, for them to live is for Christ to live. With their wills buried or immersed into the will of Christ, they thenceforth live, not unto themselves, but unto him that bought them with his own precious blood. Their own wills are dead, and henceforth they recognize only the will of the one Lord, the Head of the body, which is his church, whose names are written in heaven. Justified believers attain membership in this Church of Christ through this burial or immersion of their hearts, their wills, into the will of Christ. And as the Apostle further declares, this immersion of our wills (ourselves) into Christ is acceptable only when it is an immersion even unto death—an entire, a complete immersion forever. “Know ye not that so many of us as were immersed into Jesus Christ were immersed into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by immersion into death; that like as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we also [from the time of our consecration, the immersion of our wills into that of the one Lord,] should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be [sharers] also in the likeness of his resurrectionthe first resurrection, to be with him and like him, partakers of the divine nature. (Rom. 6:3-5; Phil. 3:10,11.) This is the only real baptism, of which immersion in water is only the beautiful and appropriate symbol.

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Acknowledgment & References

Br. Charles Russell—the founder of the Bible Students movement, who is the compiler of “Poems and Hymns of Millennial Dawn” which was published in Allegheny, Pa., in 1890. This Bible Students’ devotional originally contained a total of 151 poems and 333 hymns.

POEMS-AND-HYMNS-OF-MILLENNIAL-DAWN

The following prefatory to the 1905 publication of Hymns of Millennial Dawn may be of historical interest to many of our readers.

We published in 1890, with several more recent editions, a volume entitled “Poems and Hymns of Millennial Dawn” without music. The same collection of hymns with the music is now urgently needed, and therefore appears in this volume. The poems, although highly prized, are omitted for greater convenience in size. We have preserved the same alphabetical order, because so many of our readers have the older book; and where a different tune is given from that originally suggested the latter is indicated by Alt. for alternative tune, with the number where that tune can be found.

Both words and music are credited to the same class to whom the work is dedicated-to the Lord and His faithful people, “the Saints.” The authors of many of the best of them are unknown to us, and, besides, slight changes have been made in the phraseology and sentiment of quite a number, which we could not be sure their original authors would approve, and to give personal credit to less than one half would seem invidious. To all of these dear “Saints” of all ages we therefore give united and hearty thanks for the blessings which they, as the Lord’s servants and handmaidens, have bestowed upon their fellow-members of “the Church of the Firstborn, whose names are written in Heaven.” Most of them died long ago: their abundant reward will be of the Lord in the resurrection.

That the collection is thoroughly undenominational, unsectarian, will be manifest to those recognizing the fact that it includes the choicest old hymns and tunes used by all denominations.

Although we have gathered far and near and winnowed carefully we cannot hope to have gotten all the golden grains, though we do hope that no chaff can be found. The collection is for the Church, for “believers” “reconciled,” and hence contains none of the “sinners” hymns, such as “Come, ye sinners poor and needy,” because willful sinners are in no sense members of the “Body” of Christ, nor are those who have not yet accepted the Lord as their Savior.

Those who will feel the deepest interest in this collection, and whose sentiments will be most fully voiced in its verses, will undoubtedly be those in fullest degree of sympathy with the divine plan of the ages, as set forth in the several volumes of Millennial Dawn – the eyes of whose understanding have been opened to the clearer, purer light now shining from our great Redeemer’s cross, showing the fulness and the completeness of his salvation.

In fact, this volume, while not numbered as one of the volumes of the Millennial Dawn series, is designed to be a companion volume, a melodious accompaniment to the “new song,” “the song of Moses and the Lamb” (the grand harmony of the Law and the Gospel), as presented in the regular Dawn series.

Let the music of God’s good and great plan ring through your hearts and lives, dear fellow-pilgrims and fellow members of the “royal priesthood,” so that every day and every hour shall be filled with joy and praise and thankfulness! And that this little volume may assist in deepening the work of grace in your hearts is our hope and prayer.

– Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, July, 1905, Allegheny, PA, USA


Later on, the hymns from this book formed a basis for the hymnal titled “Hymns of Dawn” which was published by the Dawn Bible Students Association in East Rutherford, New Jersey (USA) and the 1999 edition contains a total of 361 hymns.

Hymns of Dawn.jpg

 

Suggested Further Reading

Making Peace by Br. Rick Suraci.
http://www.beautiesofthetruth.org/Archive/Library/Doctrine/Mags/Bot/90s/2018C.pdf

Doing and Saying the Kindest Thing in the Kindest Way
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2017/03/18/doing-and-saying-the-kindest-thing-in-the-kindest-way/

Hebrews 10:25 — Not Forsaking The Assembling Of Ourselves Together
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2016/06/26/hebrews-1025/

John 13:14-15 — “Washing One Another’s Feet — A Privilege.”
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2017/03/27/washing-one-anothers-feet-a-privilege/

What Does It Mean To Be Baptized Into Christ?
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2016/07/09/what-does-it-mean-to-be-baptized-into-christ/

Are You In the Little Flock?
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2016/12/03/are-you-in-the-little-flock/

How Is Your Zeal?
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2016/10/06/how-is-your-zeal/

Who We Are. BIBLE Students DAILY
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/category/who-we-are/

OUR BELIEFS — What Does The Bible Teach Us?
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/category/beliefs/

 

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Where Does “Christmas” Originate From?

Where Does CHRISTMAS ORIGINATE from.jpg

The Christmas season is the most enjoyable time of the year for many who think upon the events surrounding the gift of Jehovah to the world—his firstborn Son, our Lord Jesus as a special gift to the human family, but is the redemptive work of Jesus Christ, truly appreciated in its full sense?

You see, the true reason for Jesus’ birth was that he would give his life as a ransom price for the sins of every single human that has lived.

The apostle Paul wrote to Timothy, “I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time” (1 Timothy 2:1-6).

In John 3:16 we read that “God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

The Greatest Message of Joy

The angel in Luke 2:10-14 was announcing God’s greatest gift to his poor, sin-sick and dying human creation: A SAVIOR… The “ransom for ALL to be testified in due time” when Christ’s future kingdom of righteousness will soon be established on earth, and when “God’s sons” (the Bride of CHRIST—the 144,000, shall be all beyond the vail and “revealed.” (1 Timothy 2:6, Romans 8:19)

The birth of Jesus had been foretold by the Prophet Isaiah:

“Unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this” (Isaiah 9:6,7).

Isaiah’s prophecy speaks of Jesus as the antitypical King David, and that he would in due time assume the several and distinct offices of his yet future kingdom as outlined in the prophecy.

At that future time, our loving Heavenly Father would entrust the glorified Jesus to exercise the great power and authority that would be given him to bless all the families of the earth as promised to the true and faithful “seed” of Abraham (Genesis 22:15-18; Acts 17:31).

At Christmas when the world’s attention is drawn to the birth of our dear Lord Jesus, we must acknowledge that he left us with no instructions to celebrate his birth date.

However, Jesus did give us instructions to memorialize his deathinviting us to partake of the emblems and to remember his death. (Matthew 26:26-30; Mark 14:22-26, 1 Corinthians 11:17-34).

In the Book of Luke, Jesus’ words spoken to his followers at the last supper on Nisan 14th (the day of unleavened bread when the Passover lamb was to be sacrificed) are as follows:

“(17)And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, Take this, and divide it among yourselves: (18) For I say unto you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine, until the kingdom of God shall come. (19) And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me. (20) Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you” (Luke 22:17-19).

An Ancient Holiday Season

Although many Christian people continue to observe December 25th as the date of Jesus’ birth, there is no scriptural evidence for this date. Many students of the Bible have come to the conclusion that the blessed event took place around the beginning of October, as we have explained in the post titled Calculating the Date of Jesus’ Birth.

The Winter Solstice

Many ancient cultures chose the Winter Solstice as a special time for celebrating Christmas—which was the terminal point between the darkest days of the year, and the time when the sunlight would begin to increase. That is, when the path of the sun has reached its furthest southern position. The word “solstice” literally means “the sun stands still.”

The time of the Winter Solstice was determined using very primitive and imprecise methods—measuring the length of the shadow created by a stick or a standing stone, which in turn, was dependent on clear weather to create a shadow and to make their calculations as accurate as possible.

In pagan times, the Winter Solstice was seen as part of an annual cycle of the earth’s seasons known as “the wheel of the year.” They celebrated eight festivals including the spring, midsummer, fall, and Yule seasons. Four others were spaced midway between each of them. These festivals have origins in Germanic and Celtic pre-Christian feasts.

Yuletide Celebrations

The Yuletide festival was one of the ancient traditions that was observed in many areas of Europe, the British Isles, and elsewhere. The word Yule relates to the Christmas season and the time when the sun reverses its downward path and begins to shine longer each day.

The actual time may vary a few days over the course of years, but usually occurs sometime between December 21st – 23rd.

Fathers and sons would bring home large logs, which they would set on fire. The people would feast until the log burned out, which could take as many as 12 days. The Norse believed that each spark from the fire represented a new pig or calf that would be born during the coming year. The log was believed to bring good luck to the occupants of the dwelling. Ashes from the log were placed in wells to keep the water pure and they were also placed at the roots of fruit trees and vines to help them bear an abundant harvest during the following year.

The end of December was also when most cattle were slaughtered, thus, the only time of year when they had a supply of fresh meat and most wine and beer made during the year was finally fermented and ready for drinking.

In Germany, people honoured the pagan god Oden during the mid-winter holiday who they were terrified of, as they believed he made nocturnal flights through the sky to observe his people, and then decide who would prosper or perish. Because of his presence, many people chose to stay inside.

Saturnalia

In Rome, where winters were not as harsh as those in the far north, Saturnalia—a holiday in honour of Saturn, the god of agriculture—was celebrated. Beginning in the week leading up to the winter solstice and continuing for a full month, Saturnalia was a hedonistic time, when food and drink were plentiful, when slaves would become masters for this month and when peasants were in command of the city. Business and schools were closed so that everyone could partake of this pagan “fun.”

Mithraism

Another of the Winter Solstice festivals was the celebration of Mithra—annually observed by the people of ancient Persia in honour of the Persian god Mithra who was considered the deity of light, wisdom, and moral purity. For some Romans, Mithra’s birthday was the most sacred day of the year and celebrated on December 25th.

The celebration of Mithra was later introduced into Europe and other areas of Asia Minor after the conquests of Alexander the Great (in early 300 BC) but it began to lose much of its influence by the end of the fourth century. With the rise of Constantine the Great in the fourth century, Christianity was then elevated to the prominent position as the official religion of the Roman Empire. Therefore, the ancient traditions and various observances of the old pre-Christian era gave way to the new Christian religion and its festivals.

The Christian Era

Who Established the Christmas December 25th Date?  

In the early years of Christianity, Easter was the main holiday; the birth of Jesus was not celebrated. During the early centuries of the Christian era, religious leaders wanted to establish a fixed date to celebrate the mass of Christ, which was called Christmas.

It is commonly believed that the church (that is, Pope Julius I—a bishop of Rome from AD 337 to his death in AD 352) chose this date in an effort to adopt and absorb the traditions of the pagan Saturnalia festival.

First called the Feast of the Nativity, the custom spread to Egypt by AD 432 and to England by the end of the sixth century. By the end of the eighth century, the celebration of Christmas had spread all the way to Scandinavia. Today, in the Greek and Russian orthodox churches, Christmas is celebrated 13 days after the 25th, which is also referred to as the Epiphany or Three Kings Day.

By holding Christmas at the same time as traditional winter solstice festivals, church leaders increased the chances that Christmas would be popularly embraced, but gave up the ability to dictate how it was celebrated.

By the Middle Ages, on Christmas believers attended church and afterwards celebrated raucously in a drunken, carnival-like atmosphere. Christmas became the time of year when the upper classes could repay their real or imagined “debt” to society by entertaining less fortunate citizens.

Christmas is Outlawed In the Early 17th Century

In 1645, Oliver Cromwell and his Puritan forces took over England and they vowed to rid England of decadence and, thus Christmas was cancelled through these efforts, even being known to be outlawed (from 1659-1681) in Boston. However, by popular demand, Charles II was restored to the throne and, with him, came the return of the popular holiday.

In fact, Christmas wasn’t declared a federal holiday until June 26, 1870.

The Christmas Tree – A Pagan Custom Brought to Christianity

Long before Christ, evergreen trees and plants have been used to celebrate winter festivals.

Early Romans used evergreens to decorate their temples at the New Year’s celebration of the Saturnalia festival, and exchanged branches and twigs of evergreens as a good luck blessing.

The ancient Egyptians used green palm rushes as part of their worship of the god Ra.

Pagans in Europe believed that because the evergreen tree stayed green throughout the year and could withstand the rigors of an extreme winter, they had magical abilities to ward off the life-threatening powers of darkness and cold. Thus they were considered to possess powers over evil spirits, which some ancient pagan civilizations of northern Europe believed stalked the eerie shadows of the wintertime forests.

During the winter months, evergreen wreaths and other forms of greenery were hung over doors and windows and brought inside the house to protect one from the darkness and evil spirits. The incense from burnt needles and cones as well as the scent from this greenery would freshen the dark and dismal dwellings from the otherwise stagnant odour of thresh and straw and was considered a means of blessing the occupants of the home.

The evergreens served as a reminder that the rigors of winter would pass, and that the land would once again be fruitful.

Many historians believe that the pagan people of Scandinavia were among the first to actually bring evergreen trees indoors, which served as a mid-winter symbol of the promise of the coming warmth of spring.

German Saxons are believed to have been the first to light their trees with candles, and to adorn them with decorations and trinkets for good fortune. The tradition of the indoor evergreen tree became popular in Germany, and it is believed that the first use of Christmas trees by Christians was developed in that part of Europe. Some historians have suggested that its origin may reach back as far as the eighth century.

In England, the first recorded Christmas tree was in 1841. At that time, Queen Victoria was married to Prince Albert of Germany, and he brought the tradition with him and set up the first Christmas tree in Windsor Castle.

German immigrants to America also brought the tradition with them and were celebrating Christmas with evergreen trees as early as the 1830s. The custom took several decades to catch on in the United States. During that period of time, most religious people correctly assumed that it had pagan origins. However, by the 1890s the indoor decorated Christmas tree had become popular in the majority of homes in America.

The Truth behind the Word “CHRISTMAS”

The word “CHRISTMAS” is based upon an impure doctrinal foundation: THE ROMAN CATHOLIC PAPAL SYSTEM—the ANTICHRIST of the Bible—was identified by the Reformers of the Early Church, such as Martin Luther.

The Papal system fit the description found in 2 Thessalonians 2:4:

“…who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God…”

The evidence to the Reformers in confirming the identity of Antichrist was the doctrine of the Mass. The ritual of the Mass claims to recreate and sacrifice over and over Christ’s actual flesh (bread) and blood (wine). Known as the Eucharist, it became a requirement that each believer must receive this fresh sacrifice of Christ to cover his daily sins. Daniel 11:31 refers to this as “the abomination that maketh desolate.”

The Mass makes desolate or negates the full merit of Christ’s blood which was shed once for all.” (Hebrews 7:27; 10:10)

It is important to note that the Protestant Reformers were careful not to condemn any individual Catholic believer as Antichrist—recognizing that no man is The Antichrist. Popes, bishops, priests and others have been only parts of, and, possibly, innocent members of the corrupt Antichrist system.

Jesus Christ’s Commission On Earth

At the age of maturity (30 years), the perfect man Jesus presented himself to his Heavenly Father in total consecration and obedience to do his will.

Jesus fulfilled the words that the Psalmist David had written concerning him:

“Then said I, Lo, I come: in the volume of the book it is written of me, I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart. I have preached righteousness in the great congregation: lo, I have not refrained my lips, O Lord, thou knowest. I have not hid thy righteousness within my heart; I have declared thy faithfulness and thy salvation: I have not concealed thy lovingkindness and thy truth from the great congregation. Withhold not thou thy tender mercies from me, O Lord: let thy lovingkindness and thy truth continually preserve me” (Psalm 40:7-11).

In Luke 4:18-19, Jesus explains to us his commission:

 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.”

“To the poor”—In his sermon on the mount, Jesus said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3).

“Heal the brokenhearted—Jesus was to heal the brokenhearted, and he said, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Luke 11:28).

“Preach deliverance to the captives”—Isaiah’s account reads, “To proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound” (Isaiah 61:1).

When Jesus quoted Isaiah’s prophecy, he used the word “bruised” which means to crush, as in death. The reference to “captives” points to the prison house of death. In his sermon on the resurrection of the dead, he said, “The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live” (John 5:25).

“To preach the acceptable year of the Lord”—speaks of the special invitation which has been extended to the called by God during this present Gospel Age who are laying their lives down in sacrifice which is acceptable to God (Romans 12:1,2).

What is our Commission?—see post titled Jesus’ Commission: Make Disciples. Baptize. Teach.

We, too, are commissioned to preach the Gospel to the poor, groaning creation. If we are faithful unto death, we will have the great privilege to share with our glorified Lord in his future kingdom of righteousness over all the people of earth. Let us renew our efforts to serve him as we approach another new year.

May we continue to give thanks to our loving Heavenly Father for his gift of Jesus, in whom the whole human family will be blessed under the provisions of his future kingdom of life and righteousness.

Should Christians Celebrate Christmas?

“Let us remember: Jesus did not tell his disciples to celebrate his birth. Therefore, it is not important when we choose to remember this wonderful event. Because love and appreciation for our Savior abound in people’s hearts on December 25th, we may join in their attitude of glad remembrance. And the habit of giving gifts to one another seems especially appropriate. God is the giver of every good and perfect gift. Certainly, amongst all His gifts, the one of greatest important to us is the gift of His Son to be our Redeemer” (Chicago Bible Students Website, Questions and Answers).

Reference:

The Dawn Magazine, December 2005, “The Birth of a Savior: Tidings of Great Joy.”
The Dawn Magazine, December 2011, “The Yuletide Traditions: and the Winter Solstice.”
The End Times, Fall 2005, Issue No. 34 – “Anti-Christ – the Counterfeit Heavens.”
Chicago Bible Students Website: Questions and Answers (www.chicagobible.org)

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ACTS 23:6 —HOPE & RESURRECTION. PART B. Will Mankind Resurrect With the Same Mind?

1 SAMUEL 2, 6-8.jpg

Why is a Resurrection Necessary?

The Apostle Paul explains why a resurrection is necessary through stating a precious promise in 1 Corinthians 15:21-22, (21) For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. (22) For as in Adam ALL die, even so in Christ shall ALL be made alive.”

The resurrection is necessitated by the fall, if God is to recover the fallen human race.

The Greek word in the Bible used for “resurrection” is “anastasis”—(noun).
The “ana” means again, the “stasis” means a standing.
It has the connotation to be lifted up back to full and perfect manhood…. Back to perfection.

The Old Testament does not state this word “resurrection”; it is only found in the New Testament.

So can we find this term expressed anywhere in the Old Testament? Let’s take a look at some Old Testament scriptures.

“You turn people back to dust, saying, “Return to dust, you mortals” (Psalm 90:3, NIV).

“And the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads: they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away” (Isaiah 35:10)

“Therefore the redeemed of the LORD shall return, and come with singing unto Zion; and everlasting joy shall be upon their head: they shall obtain gladness and joy; and sorrow and mourning shall flee away” (Isaiah 51:11, NIV).

God doesn’t just want a blinded obedient creation
but one that will actually REJOICE after returning from death!

Men Sleeping in the Dust

Mankind isn’t just poor, but impoverished!

We read in Daniel 12:2, “And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.”

Job confirmed this expectation of a resurrection in Job 14:13-15, “(13) O that thou wouldest hide me in the grave, that thou wouldest keep me secret, until thy wrath be past, that thou wouldest appoint me a set time, and remember me! (14) If a man die, shall he live again?… (15) Thou shalt call, and I will answer thee: thou wilt have a desire to the work of thine hands.”

Job expected to be remembered and restored. Job believed he would be awoke so much, that he asked God to put him in the grave until all his trouble would pass!

So in the Old Testament there was the understanding of the concept of being re-awakened from the sleep of death.

Release from the Prison of Death

In Psalm 146:7 we read, “The Lord looseth the prisoners …”

When you are in prison you cannot get out. The whole purpose of the prison is to keep you in. Until the door of death is unlocked, there is no coming out.

“Looseth”—freed from death as until then, there is no coming out of this condition.

In Job 3:18 we read, “There the prisoners rest together; they hear not the voice of the oppressor.”

Death is oblivion—there is no consciousness there… resting not in the same place of course but meaning in the same condition.

In Isaiah 49:8-9 we read, “ (8) I heard thee, and in a day of salvation have I helped thee: and I will preserve thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, to establish the earth, to cause to inherit the desolate heritages; (9) That thou mayest say to the prisoners, Go forth; to them that are in darkness, Shew yourselves.”

We see a glimpse of how this will be accomplished—Christ and his ‘body’ (the Elect)—through them the New Covenant will begin once they are complete.

GOD will unlock the prison house of the grave then!

I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death: O death, I will be thy plagues; O grave, I will be thy destruction: repentance shall be hid from mine eyes” (Hosea 13:14).

“(54) …Death is swallowed up in victory. (55) O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? (56) The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. (57) But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15: 54-57).

Will Mankind Resurrect With the Same Mind?

Yes. The mind you die with the mind you will come up with. If they were constantly thinking of evil or immoral… they will have to correct that!

Here are some verses to prove this:

“… if the tree fall toward the south, or toward the north, in the place where the tree falleth, there it shall be” (Ecclesiastes 11:3).

If they are earnestly seeking God they will have no problems in changing their characters.

As thou knowest not what is the way of the spirit, … even so thou knowest not the works of God who maketh all” (Ecclesiastes 11:5).

Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it” (Ecclesiastes 12:7).

In all the trials of life in the kingdom in perfect conditions wherein righteousness rules, mankind will have to make righteous choices to live forever.

JOB 4, 8.jpg
The principle in scripture is, described as the sowing and reaping one; that what we sow we will reap

It seems today in the world that the wicked prosper, right?
But there is no fooling God!

As the way they go down, so they will come up… it will catch up with them as they will have to unlearn the unrighteousness and to sanctify themselves.

“Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap” (Galatians 6:7).

You can fool the government …
You can fool the courts …
You can fool the majority of people …
But! You cannot fool God!

“The eyes of the LORD are in every place, observing both the evil and the good”  (Proverbs 15:3).

For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil” (Ecclesiastes 12:14).

So, the character you go down with, will be the character that follows in the resurrection.

Wickedness and deceit will be their own punishment in the kingdom, so they will have much further to have to go, to change their characters.

But can God Restore a Mind? Yes!

“(29) Lo, all these things worketh God oftentimes with man, (30) to bring back his soul from the pit [“sheoul” = hell, pit, grave,] to be enlightened with the light of the living” (Job 33:29-30).

The light of the living concerns the mind, the intellect. Resurrected humanity on earth will “be enlightened” again with the light of life. Their resurrection from the dead will be clear and convincing evidence to them of God’s wonderful blessing on their behalf. This itself will provide an opportunity for them to begin anew on a better footing than before, with faith in God and appreciation for His kindness.

This favorable new beginning for mankind, each one individually, being raised again on earth during the Millennium, will come through the reign of Christ with his “Bride” (comprising 144,000 members, Revelation 7 and 14). Then evil will be restrained, rather than allowed to proceed, as at present. The Spirit of understanding from God will be poured out upon the hearts of humanity, starting with the nation of Israel (Zechariah 12:10).

The spirit of understanding will bring joy to mankind in doing what is pleasing to the Heavenly Father. They will seek after righteousness when they recognize the blessings that shall be gained in doing so. As Proverbs 21:21 says, “whoever pursues righteousness and kindness will find life, righteousness, and honor.”

In Jeremiah 31 we read about the Spirit of understanding coming to Israel when they finally recognize Jesus as the Messiah.

“(31) Behold, the days come, saith Jehovah, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah … (33) This is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. (34) And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more (Jeremiah 31:31-34).

After Israel has been inducted into this “new covenant,” at the beginning of Christ’s Millennial Reign, they will be used by God to extend the same blessings outward to the remainder of the world. Then all will be able to receive the spirit of understanding from God. “And they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest” (Hebrews 8:11).

At the outset of the Millennial Age, the ransom will be applied for the world in order to remove the curse. The removal of the curse is the first necessary step in order to proceed with the resurrection. However, that does not mean the resurrected individuals are justified. They will be sinful people still (because they will return back with the same thoughts, as mentioned earlier in this post). Many of those raised will be without faith, and far short of good works. Teaching people about God and the standards of righteousness will take time. Individually, the blessed influences of the Kingdom will bring people to repentance, faith, and obedience. Ultimately they will be righteous and holy. As this process continues, they will be blessed also by physical blessings of health and vitality, returning to the perfection of being that Adam enjoyed in the garden before his sin.

The Basis of Our Hope

The basis of our hope IS the resurrection of the dead, and that ALL who die, shall come back alive.

“(20) But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. (21) For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. (22) For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. (23) But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming. (24) Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power” (1 Corinthians 15:20-24).

All will be made alive. There is a hope to the resurrection.

SOME EVEN TODAY SAY— THERE IS NO RESURRECTION!

But the Bible clearly teaches us that our HOPE is based on the resurrection—the key to our faith!

Here is a beautiful explanation that there IS a resurrection:

(12) Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead? (13) But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen: (14) And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. (15) Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not. (16) For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: (17) And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. (18) Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. (19) If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable” (1 Corinthians 15: 12-19).

The Apostle Paul is saying if your assumption is there is NO RESURRECTION, then you have NO HOPE!

The Apostle Paul is teaching us that the ONLY HOPE IS the resurrection!

The Church class (those running in the race of the High Calling) understand this and they understand that since Jesus did resurrect—this is our seal of approval that there IS a resurrection. The resurrection is really key to our faith.

Is the resurrection illustrated in the Scriptures?

Yes. Some temporary re-standings from the dead are illustrated in the Bible and as listed below, which demonstrated the capability of there being a permanent resurrection of all those in the grave:-

Resurrection Illustrated in the Bible.jpg

Remembering Those in the Grave

The hope of man is that they will be remembered by others. Yet are they?

In Psalm 6:5 we read, “in death there is no remembrance of thee: in the grave who shall give thee thanks?”

As generations pass, people are largely forgotten as explained in Psalm 102:11-12, “11My days are like a shadow that declineth; and I am withered like grass. 12 But thou, O Lord, shall endure for ever; and thy remembrance unto all generations.

Although mankind cannot remember people even 100 years ago, God can remember all generations and that too, means, that God CAN restore!

Can God Put a New Mind in an Old Body?

Of course God can!

In Acts 26:8 (NIV), the Apostle Paul explains to King Agrippa that it is because of this hope in the resurrection from the dead that the Jews are accusing him and states, “why should any of you consider it incredible that God raises the dead?”

If God has the ability to allow for the creation of 100 billion galaxies, then there is no doubt that God can restore all mankind in the soon to begin Kingdom!

Psalm 147, 4-5 - STARS AND GALAXIES.jpg

In Isaiah 40:28 (KJV) we read, “Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding.”

Why Restore the Old Mind?

In Mark 12:27 we are told that our Heavenly Father “is not the God of the dead, but the God of the living…

The Bible explains that God has appointed a day, in which “He will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead” (Acts 17:31).

This necessitates the remembrance of the consequences of sin.

All mankind who resurrect on earth will have the chance to gain eternal life so that there is PERFECT JOY FOREVERMORE as it is disobedience to God’s commands that led to PAIN, SORROW, TEARS, SUFFERING and UNHAPPINESS… while OBEDIENCE to RIGHTEOUSNESS is what pleases the Creator of our Universe and adhering to this, will lead to ETERNAL JOY!

The Bible assures us that God will “swallow up death in victory; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from off all faces… for the Lord hath spoken it” (Isaiah 25:8).

Acknowledgement

Br. Bob Goodman — for source material from his power-point presentation (a “BibleTruth411” – YouTube Video) “The Hope and Resurrection of the Dead”.

Br. David Rice — assistance with content and editing.

Suggested Further Reading

ACTS 23:6 —HOPE & RESURRECTION. PART A: What is Jesus All About?
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2016/11/03/acts-236-hope-resurrection-part-a-what-is-jesus-all-about/

ACTS 23:6 —HOPE & RESURRECTION. PART C. The Order of the Resurrection Process.https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2016/11/11/acts-236-hope-resurrection-part-c-the-order-of-the-resurrection-process/

ACTS 3:19-21 – The Restitution of All Things
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2017/08/02/acts-319-21-the-restitution-of-all-things/

Epoch Periods In God’s Plan
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2017/08/16/epoch-periods-in-gods-plan/

The Resurrection of the Dead. Faithbuilders Fellowship, Nov. – Dec. 2008 (Journal Section). http://www.2043ad.com/journal/2008/06_nd_08.pdf

Life After Death. Dawn Bible Students Association.
http://www.dawnbible.com/booklets/life.htm

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